Just Host shut down the personal website of Mehdi Karroubi, a reformist cleric, in August, citing sanctions imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), under the US Treasury Department. The sanctions restrict US entities’ trade and provision of services to Iran, and include the ccTLDs .IR, .SY, .KP and .CU.
Karroubi and fellow reformist leader Mirhossein Mousavi have been under house arrest since February 2011 when they called for street protests in solidarity with pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia, according to a report by the Guardian. Last week, Iran’s supreme leader agreed to let the country’s supreme national security decide on their fate, as they have been held for two years without being put on trial.
Mohammad Hossein Ziya runs Karroubi’s website, and said the situation is “like being caught in a pair of scissors.”
“What’s frustrating is that on one hand, our sites are filtered inside Iran and so Iranian companies are fearful of providing services to us, and on another hand we face the sanctions,” Ziya told Reuters.
The US Treasury Department created a general license in May to allow US firms to sell services and technology used for personal communications to Iranians, but operating a website using the .ir domain involves importing services from Iran, violating US sanctions. Ziya would have to apply to get the license from OFAC before Just Host could continue hosting the website.